PA Minister of Religious Affairs
PA Minister of Religious AffairsPMW

The Palestinian Authority religious affairs minster, a week before peace talks in Washington, warned of war if Jerusalem is not “returned” to “its owners. And we are its owners."

With PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in the audience, Mahmoud Al-Habbash declared in his Friday sermon, "Jerusalem can ignite a thousand and one wars,” according to a translation supplied by Palestinian Media Watch.

Unless Jerusalem "becomes the capital of the Palestinian people, there is no peace," he warned. "The term 'war' will not be erased from the long as Jerusalem is occupied.

“If Jerusalem is dishonored, if Jerusalem is disgraced, if [Jerusalem] is lost, it may leave the door open to all possibilities of struggle, all possibilities of war.  

"Jerusalem is not just a city. Al-Aqsa is not just a mosque. Jerusalem is the key to peace…. Unless Jerusalem will be Palestinian, as it was throughout history, the capital of the Palestinian state and the capital of the Palestinian people, the place which is the object of heartfelt longing and which all Muslims aspire to reach; unless Jerusalem is like that way, there is no peace. There is no peace without Jerusalem. There is no stability without Jerusalem.”

U.S. President Barack Obama, who is scheduled to host Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Abbas this week, has gradually changed his position on Jerusalem. During his 2008 election campaign, he stated that the city is the "undivided” capital of Israel, but he backtracked the next day after Arab protests.

He explained that it was up to the PA and Israel to decide the borders of the city and later stated that he meant the city should not be divided by barbed wire, as it was during the Jordanian occupation between 1948 and 1967.

In his “reaching out Muslims’ speech in Cairo in June 2008, President Obama said he foresees the United Nations flag flying over the city.